F1 Raceweek: Mercedes looked like idiots in qualifying, fumes Wolff

Ferrari has the front row locked out at the Belgium Grand Prix, with Toto Wolff alarmed by what he saw from Mercedes heading into race day.

Lewis Hamilton at the Belgian Grand Prix   -  Getty Images

Toto Wolff will expect a raceday response from Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas after he suggested the team "looked like idiots" in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Ferrari sped around Spa on Saturday, locking out the front row with Charles Leclerc on pole and Sebastian Vettel just behind.

But for all the Scuderia's good work, and even considering their car's obvious suitability to the track, Wolff noted his team's clear failings.

A big crash for runaway championship leader Hamilton left his FP3 in tatters and there was almost a collision with team-mate Bottas, who signed a new Mercedes deal this week, in qualifying.

Hamilton swerved clear of Kimi Raikkonen and very nearly ended up in the back of Bottas' car, with the Finn braking.

Wolff fumed: "We know that the tow is important, but today we tripped over our own feet.

"You want to do it extra perfect and then you look like an idiot and this is what happened to us today.

"We knew that it was going to be difficult, and third and fourth was what we expected as the optimum result. I think it could have been second, but if you have a deficit anyway with your package, that is enormous.

"I mean, the power is ridiculous on the Ferrari on these kinds of tracks. You've got to do everything right – and we didn't."

 

Those continued difficulties could now give Ferrari its first win of the season on Sunday.

It has been a miserable year for the Scuderia, with Leclerc close to victory on a couple of occasions and former champion Vettel - last victorious at Spa in 2018 - hopelessly out of form.

They will hope to finally capitalise on their car's straight line speed in Belgium.


STAR MEN STILL CONFIDENT OF CHALLENGE

Despite their team's frustration, both Hamilton and Bottas offered an optimistic outlook ahead of Sunday.

"I'm hoping that we can at least give [Ferrari] a bit of a challenge tomorrow," said Hamilton, appearing to back up Leclerc's fears about the Ferrari race pace.

"I think a bit of their straight [line] speed, which is where generally all the speed is, is usually not there so much in the race, so hopefully we'll be there or thereabouts with them."

Bottas added: "Honestly, I'm optimistic. The long runs looked good yesterday [Friday]. We can definitely fight for the win from P3 and P4."
 

MAX LOOKING TO MAKE UP GROUND ON MERCEDES

Max Verstappen is less convinced by Red Bull's chances of catching Ferrari but, having qualified in fifth, he at least has Mercedes in his sights.

"I expect we can be close to the Mercedes cars," he said.

"I expect the Ferrari cars to be ahead, because with their top speed, even if you would be faster than them, you wouldn't get them on the straights. They are a bit difficult to beat."
 

THE GRID

1. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)
2. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
4. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
5. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)
6. Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo)
7. Sergio Perez (Racing Point)
8. Kevin Magnussen (Haas)
9. Romain Grosjean (Haas)
10. Lando Norris (McLaren)

PREVIOUS WINNERS

2018: Sebastian Vettel
2017: Lewis Hamilton
2016: Nico Rosberg
2015: Lewis Hamilton

DRIVER STANDINGS

1. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 250
2. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 188 (-62)
3. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 181 (-69)
4. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) 156 (-94)
5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 132 (-118)

CONSTRUCTOR STANDINGS

1. Mercedes 438
2. Ferrari 288 (-150)
3. Red Bull 244 (-194)
4. McLaren 82 (-356)
5. Toro Rosso 43 (-395)

WEATHER FORECAST

A cooler day is anticipated on Sunday, with temperatures only set to reach 18 degrees Celsius. There is also set to be greater humidity, although only light showers are expected.